BOSTON, July 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today International SOS joins thousands of corporate travel directors and other business travel thought leaders at the 2012 GBTA Convention in Boston, Mass. Many of these convention attendees may also be gearing up for their organizations' travel to London to attend or conduct business during the 2012 Olympics Games.
With any large-scale public event, but particularly one as globally significant as the Games, security preparation and awareness for travellers must be heightened in anticipation of the unique risks presented by large crowds, unfamiliar locations and traffic patterns, busy travel hubs and opportunistic crime.
Beginning July 27, the U.K. will kick start the largest peacetime security operation in the country's history to ensure an incident-free Summer Olympics (27 July – 12 August) and Paralympics (29 August – 9 September). London will see a significant increase in the number of police officers deployed on the streets during the events, and a military contingency force and private security personnel will provide support to counter-terrorism specialists that will monitor and assess the threat from terrorism.
International SOS, the leading global medical and security services company, is also well prepared for the influx of visitors to London, and has been working with its clients to make sure they are Olympic ready.
Alex Puig, Regional Security Director, Americas, for International SOS and Control Risks, who will present today at the GBTA Convention, explains: "International SOS has supported clients at many major sporting events, including the Beijing Olympics and the South Africa World Cup. We have spent the last several years planning and testing our approach for London 2012. Our clients going to the Games will have the full support of our extensive team headquartered in London as well as our 24/7 global network of security, medical and logistics experts"
International SOS has compiled its top tips sporting visitors should follow to have a safe and enjoyable Olympic experience:
- Plan your journey – Although the Underground, DLR and Overground will run extended services to accommodate an increased number of passengers, all lines are likely to experience heavy congestion during the Olympics. Lines that will be placed under particular strain include those serving the Olympic Park directly. To avoid "getting stuck in traffic," allow plenty of time for journeys, especially across London. Plan routes and timings in accordance with the advice on the dedicated Olympics travel website (http://www.getaheadofthegames.com/) and Transport for London website (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/) to avoid heavily-congested areas.
- Take sensible security precautions to mitigate the risk of petty and street crime – Petty theft will be a particular concern on the City's busy public transport network, especially at heavily congested tube and rail stations, and in crowded public spaces, including those popular with tourists. Likely hot spots include main network rail stations and locations popular with sightseers. Olympic events outside London may also experience higher-than-average levels of petty crime, particularly around transport hubs and routes to and from football matches.
- Avoid demonstrations and protests as a routine security precaution – Activist groups such as Occupy London and/or labor unions such as Unite may use the Olympics as a platform to demonstrate their opposition to a variety of issues, including cuts to salaries and pension and education reforms. Both groups have threatened to stage strikes and demonstrations during the Games, though it remains unclear if they act will on such threats.
- Be vigilant and follow the instructions of the local authorities or emergency services during a major incident – It's important to remain vigilant during the Games and contact the authorities if you see any suspicious activity. There is likely to be an uptick of bomb hoaxes and other false security alerts in the lead-up to and during the Olympics, which can be very disruptive, but it's again important to alert the local authorities as soon as you have noticed anything out of the ordinary.
- Understand access to medical care in the United Kingdom – Many travelers familiar with the medical care system in the U.S. may expect to be seen immediately by private care providers if they find themselves sick or injured while in London. Travelers should keep in mind that the National Health Service (NHS), the publicly funded healthcare system in the U.K., is the sole means of access to care in an emergency. Care in the emergency department is free but inpatient treatment will be chargeable. The NHS is a well-resourced public health system with good emergency facilities and a high standard of physician training and treats patients with the most need for medical care before those with less severe complaints. Travelers should review the NHS's website for more information about accessing care during the Games (http://www.nhs.uk/2012/pages/medical-services-during-london-olympics.aspx), and utilize the services of an assistance provider which vets medical facilities and staff, sets up appointments and delivers real-time medical advice over-the-phone.
About International SOS
International SOS (www.internationalsos.com) is the world's leading medical & security services company operating from over 700 sites in 76 countries with 10,000 employees, led by 1,100 physicians and 200 security specialists. Our global services include medical and risk planning, preventative programs, in-country expertise and emergency response for travellers, expatriates and their dependents of over 70 percent of the Fortune 500 companies.
SOURCE International SOS